Category: Archive

Police panel begins work

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST – The first meeting of the new Commission on Policing, which has a year to come up with recommendations on reforming the RUC into a police service acceptable to both communities, took place last week.

David Trimble, the UUP leader, has criticized British Northern Secretary Mo Mowlam for speaking to Sinn Fein’s director of publicity, Rita O’Hare, about the make-up of the commission.

There are deep concerns in Nationalist circles about the composition of the Commission, and about whether it has the will and motivation to come forward with radical proposals to change the RUC.

After the leak of confidential documents, detailing Mowlam’s phone call to an “angry and emotional” O’Hare, the SDLP deputy leader, Seamus Mallon, called the competency of the Northern civil service into question.

But Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson praised the civil servant who leaked him details of the confidential conversation. Donaldson said it was beneficial that Unionists find out what was going on behind the scenes.

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Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionists launched their election manifesto last week, with Trimble claiming that the power-sharing Executive need not be set up until February next year, a full eight months after the assembly elections.

Observers believe he intends to hold the British prime minister, Tony Blair, to a promise that should the IRA not decommission within six months, then early prison releases would be revoked and changes made to the Belfast Agreement.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has rejected the British government’s recently published White Paper on equality as “inadequate.” The party said the British paper failed to meet the standards set in the agreement.

Sinn Fein is demanding that the paper be reassessed with new and revised legislation properly implemented and resourced. It said a Department of Equality must be set up, which it said would be of critical importance and a clear signal of serious intent.

Also last week, a human rights group strongly criticized plans by the UDP to organize an economic boycott of the GAA. The UDP has approached several large brewing companies asking them to withdraw sponsorship and advertising from the GAA until Rule 21 is removed.

The rule bans RUC officers and British soldiers from membership of the GAA. So far, the campaign has not met with success. The Bank of Ireland said it would not interfere in the affairs of a customer and Guinness also declined the offer of a meeting.

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